Saturday, 3 November 2012

Mr. Norris Changes Trains ~ Christopher Isherwood

Isherwood's boy narrator is now called William Bradshaw and he's every bit as fun, lucid, and sensitive as the first-person narrator in the previous books. William lives in Berlin in the early 1930s, just as the Nazis are gaining ground, and he meets a stranger on the train. The latter's blue eyes strike him as much as his ill-fitting wig, and his jumpy nature makes William to come to conclusions. Their camaraderie continues beyond that train journey and although they make an unlikely couple, they become friends. Mr. Norris Changes Trains is about the misadventures of Mr. Norris and thankfully does not read like a spy novel (I'm slightly wary of their devious mazes, although I read 'em). Isherwood had later condemned his work for being shallow and heartless because it didn't portray well enough the sufferings of the people of a nation on the brink of destruction. However, I did enjoy reading the novel. The reader is continuously aware of the tragedy lurking at the corner, yet (s)he cannot help but identify with the endearing British expatriate and the incidents that dot his daily life in a foreign country, and the palate of extraordinary people whom he meets, some of whom he'd never meet again. I have been looking for The Berlin Stories and I'd like to read this book again with Goodbye to Berlin. Until that happens, I highly recommend Mr. Norris Changes Trains.  

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